ATHENS – Seeing Turkey move an energy research vessel into Greek waters, major opposition SYRIZA Progressive Alliance leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras said the New Democracy government must move territorial waters from six to 12 miles to protect their sovereignty.
The ship the Oruc Reis is near the island of Kastellorizo which is within sight of the Turkish coast, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claiming Greek waters under a maritime deal with Libya no other country recognizes.
Tsipras, whose government moved to push the territorial boundaries in the Ionian Sea off western Greece to 12 miles, said doing the same in the Aegean and East Mediterranean “is the only way forward,” because of Turkish belligerence, said Kathimerini.
“Erdogan opened up Varosha and sent a research vessel to survey within the area of the Greek continental shelf, even within the potential 12 nautical miles of our territorial waters in Kastellorizo,” Tsipras told an emergency meeting at his party's headquarters.
He was referring to a beach front at an abandoned resort town on the northern third of Cyprus that has been occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and with Turkey also drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters despite soft European Union sanctions.
He said that developments with Turkey should come as no surprise, citing his statement earlier when he said that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had “thrown in the towel” at the EU summit with Turkey, withdrawing his call for sanctions.
That was done to give diplomacy a chance but almost as soon as it ended, Erdogan sent the energy ship back into Greek waters. “I have to wonder what the red line is for Mr. Mitsotakis,” he also said.
In the current conditions, “an extension of Greece's territorial waters to 12 nautical miles around the islands of the Eastern Mediterranean and Crete was the only way forward. As well as pressure at the summit for sanctions,” he was reported to have said.
Sources not identified told the paper that Tsipras said that without a mechanism for sanctions, and if the issue of extending Greece's territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in the Eastern Mediterranean is not broached, “Greece and the EU will lose all credibility.” He didn't mention he did little to stop Erdogan.